You must obey the rules when you gain altitude. The rules are very simple though. Also known as AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), High Altitude Sickness or simply "Altitude Sickness" is a physical condition when the body cannot adapt well to the lack of oxygen present in higher altitudes. Generally, High Altitude Sickness Occurs when people ascend up to the high altitude (generally above 3000 meters) very quickly. So climbing too high too fast can have life-threatening repercussions. At the altitude of 5490m (18000ft), there's just half the oxygen available as there is at the sea level. And it's only a third available at the Mt Everest summit.
To make you sure about your safety and well-being by reducing the risk of altitude sickness, Cold Feet Adventure Nepal has designed proper itineraries for all the trips. However, individual susceptibility to altitude sickness seems to be determined genetically.
Initial Symptoms of High Altitude Sickness
If you are at altitudes of more than 3000m, don't expect to feel perfect. You may experience the normal altitude symptoms over there but there's nothing to be seriously worry about. Almost all trekkers may experience some of the following symptoms, which are considered the initial symptoms of High altitude Sickness:
The need for more sleeps (often 10 hours or more)
Periods of sleeplessness
Loss of appetite (occasionally)
Wild dreams at the altitude of about 2500m to 3800m
Unexpected shortness of breath (momentary)
Snotty nose (almost all the time)
Painful cough or a dry raspy cough
What to do if you get Mild Symptoms?
Don't go high with basic symptoms
If you get mild symptoms, just stop and relax and drink some fluids quite often
Have more rest and take 125-250mg Diamox in the evening and drink plenty of fluids
Take another 250mg Diamox 6 to 8 hours later. Don't leave taking precautions even if you feel a little better.
If symptoms continue to get worse, don't try to ascend up. Rather descend down and acclimatize, and try to climb up again.
Serious AMS Symptoms
Severe headache (continuously)
Inability to walk in a straight line
Difficulty in breathing
Liquid sounds in the lungs
Feeling breathless at rest
Coughing clear fluid or pink phlegm or blog (dangerous sign)
Marked blueness in face and lips
High-resting heartbeats (over 130 beats per minute)
Mild symptoms getting worse (rapidly)
It occurs when excess fluid moves into the alveoli of your lungs and interferes the proper exchange of oxygen. HAPE is the most prevalent cause of all climbing fatalities due to high altitude sickness.
Early HAPE symptoms include a dry cough and difficulty in breathing along with irregular heartbeats. Ascending very slowly helps prevent HAPE. If a person is suffering from the early stages of HAPE, s/he must be given oxygen and evacuated to a lower elevation.
It involves significant swelling of the brain and increasing cerebral pressure. Generally, AMS precedes HACE but not always. Major symptoms include mental confusion, irrational behavior, disorientation, inability to coordinate muscle movements, nausea and vomiting (in severe cases). If not treated in time, HACE ultimately leads to comma or death.
How Can You Prevent High Altitude Sickness?
Listen to your body and follow the following simple guidelines if you want to prevent Mountain Sickness:
Try climbing higher during the day time and descend down for the sleep. Climb slowly and increase your sleeping altitude by only 1000 to 15000 feet per day.
Pay attention to your body and beware of the initial sickness symptoms. If you are having AMS symptoms, do not climb.
If the symptoms are becoming severe, descend as soon as possible.
Drink two liters of waters per day for removing sweat.
Dress properly for high altitude treks. User synthetic under shirts for removing sweats, a down jacket to prevent hypothermia, and a warm fleece jacket which can predispose you to AMS and its complications.
The Tools You Need Gamow Bag
Gamow Bag is a body-sized pressurized sack that artificially decreases the inner altitude by as much as 4500 feet. The patient is put in the Gamow Bag and then it is sealed. Then, a foot pump is operated to increase the pressure inside. For AMS, this treatment takes about a couple of hours and about four hours for HAPE and six for HACE. Actually a Gamow Bag is a temporary measure merely intended to prevent the negative effects of altitude until a patient is capable of descending.
Pulse Oximeter measures the oxygen saturation of your RBCs. You need to clip the Pulse Oximeter to your fingertip and no blood needs to be drawn. This invaluable device monitors what percent of your hemoglobin molecules are carrying oxygen and offers an objective measurement of acclimatization.
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